Be nice to yourself, prioritize your loved ones, and more wisdom from Elena Taeyaerts.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Elena Taeyaerts, Barnard College, Political Science, Chicago 

Claim to fame: Stealing Columbia University “No Dogs Allowed” lawn sign on Homecoming. Often getting Lenovo laptop locked on 6th floor of Butler. Going to every dining hall event & being friends with the staff. Wearing athleisure 90% of the time and likely a little sweaty. Strong Chicago accent. 

Where are you going? D.C.! (hopefully) 

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2025? 

1.    Be nice to yourself. You’re bound to get things wrong in your classes & balancing clubs, jobs, social life… Remember that everyone is going through the same transition to college; it’s all about trial and error.
2.    School isn’t everything – always prioritize your friends and your family. Those relationships are much more important in the grand scheme of life than your grades.
3.    Take advantage of the dining halls. You won’t appreciate them until they’re gone. 

“Back in my day…” JJ’s had different hours for Barnard students and Milstein didn’t exist. Our library was in Barnard Hall’s old gymnasium and everything was generally covered in scaffolding. 

Favorite Columbia controversy? Columbia banning the marching band from Butler and subsequently slashing their entire budget. Very funny. 

What was your favorite class at Columbia? So hard!
Top 2:
Reforming American Elections – Professor Miller
Freedom of Speech and Press – PrezBo

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I have to stick with my “French” roots here and keep the cheese. Give me a lil piece of Saint Agur cheese any day. 

Whom would you like to thank? A lot of people. Professor Michael Miller, for being the coolest professor and best advisor. My friends (and especially roommates) for making me laugh and always having my back. Columbia Dems 2017 campaign trip for introducing me to some of my closest friends. Tomas, Chantal, and Euphemia from Ferris for being my second family and serving up the finest food. Barnard Admissions for providing a supportive work environment and job that has been a highlight of my time here. My parents for always believing in me.

One thing to do before graduating: Get baptized at Mel’s for brew crew. 

Any regrets? Pursuing a psychology minor (for a while). 

Image via Elena Taeyaerts